When you announce you're pregnant many people seem to have a similar reaction, "oh congrats, how wonderful, get all the sleep you can now because you'll be wrecked from sleepless nights!"
But that's not all, then comes the horror birth stories.
The mother who gave birth on a trolley on the corridor of a hospital; those who were too late to the hospital for the administration of any type of pain killers; memories of babies who cried solidly for six months; those who didn't sleep for a full night for three years; the relationships that were put under such strain in the early weeks and months that they fell apart. How the first night home with a newborn is like being taught how to swim by being pushed off a moving boat that sails away quickly leaving you figure it out for yourself. Husbands that start working longer hours because work seems like a break compared to looking after a baby. And those that felt they were demoted or sidelined or even pushed out at work once they started a family.
The people sharing this information always finished off with the same phrase, "... but it's all worth it".
"Really?" I used think to myself, because not an altogether endearing picture was being painted. Especially when a close friend had walked me through her three birthing experiences, down to the number of stitches, and also the horror stories she'd heard second and third hand, I asked her why people always shared these stories so readily.
She said, "when you've been through the wars and you've been badly scared both mentally and physically, you need to talk about it."
Maybe it was like therapy, I thought, but I knew by her tone that she felt I would understand when I'd been through it.
Now that I'm a mother I'm still not sure why people focus on the negative because there is so much more to celebrate than to berate. Even if you have been through the 'wars', it only makes the homecoming all the more joyful and the grand prize all the more special.
So the next time a friend of mine announces she's expecting her first baby, instead of utterly terrifying her with the worst possible scenarios, here's what I'll tell her.
When you hold your baby in your arms and look down at his face your heart will almost explode with happiness. The morning sickness and every ache and pain will be wiped from your memory by your child's first smile. You will be overwhelmed by the amount of kindness that comes from other people on the arrival of your first born, not just from family and friends, but from absolute strangers such as the midwives in the hospital. You'll wish you had a baby sooner and will wonder why you waited so long. When you see your husband be so patient and tender with your child you'll fall in love with him all over again. Every achievement you ever held dear will seem minuscule compared to bringing your little one into the world, which may not be the easiest thing you've ever do, but it will be the most rewarding, and finally, you understand why people say, 'it's worth it'.
And yes, sleep is for wimps.